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  • Writer's pictureJace Shoemaker-Galloway

National Failures Day: Popular products & inventions made by mistake

August is filled with a variety of traditional and not-so-traditional holidays that celebrates special events, honors extraordinary people and celebrates delicious food and refreshing beverages. But Aug. 15 recognizes something entirely different – it’s National Failures Day.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have had failures in our lives. Whether big or small, each choice we make has consequences. But thankfully, many of us learn from our mistakes. And although we may not recognize it at the time, some mistakes turn out to be blessings in disguise.

In fact, some of the world’s most beloved and important inventionsand products were actually created by “mistake.”

In fact, some of the world’s most beloved and important inventions and products were actually created by “mistake.”

Popular Products & Inventions Made by Mistake

  • Scientist Sir Alexander Fleming actually threw away what would become one of the most important and most widely-used medications of all-time - penicillin. In the late 1920s, he was working on a “wonder drug” and noticed one of his contaminated Petri dishes he had thrown away had mold that was eating away the surrounding bacteria.

  • Believe it or not, one of the most popular sweet treats was actually invented by mistake back in 1937. Ruth Graves Wakefield was whipping up a batch of cookies when she discovered she was out of chocolate. Luckily, she happened to have a chocolate bar on hand and broke it up into pieces and added it to the batter and made the first chocolate chip cookie! And the rest, as they say, is history. Sweet!

  • After a disgruntled customer complained about how his potatoes were prepared, a disgusted Chef George Speck Crum invented what would become one of the world’s best loved snacks – potato chips.

  • Pharmacist John Pemberton was working on a cure for headaches when he created what would become the most popular soft drink in the world –Coca-Cola. His special concoction remains a secret today and changed the beverage world forever.

  • War hero and inventor Percy Spencer invented one of the most popular appliances used today – the microwave oven. Spencer obtained 120 patents during his lifetime.

  • Silly Putty was made by mistake when General Electric engineer, James Wright, was working on creating an inexpensive rubber substitute.

  • Engineer Richard James invented one of the most popular children’s toys of all-time while working on a set of springs to be used on ships – the Slinky.

  • The sticky Post-It Notes were created by mistake when 3M researcher Spencer Silver was working on an adhesive product. After sharing his product with fellow co-workers, Art Fry, who also worked at 3M, thought of using the product as reusable bookmarks and the rest, as they say, is history.

August 15 is also National Relaxation Day!

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